Pathways through Participation Just another Involve Sites site Wed, 17 Jul 2013 13:11:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Spreading the Pathways word Tue, 24 Apr 2012 12:52:08 +0000 Although the Pathways project officially ended with the launch of our final learning event and associated paper back in October, I’ve continued to be involved in spreading the word about the project and sharing the findings, mostly through speaking at events and doing workshops, a few of which I’ll talk about here.

Back in December, I was invited to speak about active citizenship at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) annual conference. Princess Anne is a patron of the charity; she attended and shared her early experiences of volunteering through knitting squares for blankets for people in need in the Brownies. The Pathways research found that uniformed organisations like Brownies and Boys Brigade or Scouts were common entry points for participation, and I was pleased to be able to make this link in the presence of HRH!

In January I did a workshop at the National Union of Students (NUS) annual strategic conversation – a time when the NUS gets together to explore how students’ unions can demonstrate their impact on students, institutions and the wider community. The NUS is interested in widening the participation of students in unions, and my workshop focused on the Pathways findings that tease out the motivations and barriers to participation.

We’re currently working on an academic article – more news on that in the summer – and the findings of the Pathways research continue to inform my other research work and interests, for example some current work looking at the impact of volunteers in children’s centres which I hope to present on later this years at the VSSN/NCVO Research Conference in September. I’m also looking forwards to linking up with international colleagues and to presenting on a panel with the Chair of the Pathways Advisory Group, Marilyn Taylor, at the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR) conference in Siena in the summer.

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Pathways through Participation goes international Fri, 20 Apr 2012 11:25:02 +0000 During the duration of the project,  people contacted us from a range of different countries about what we were doing and our publications. And international interest has continued. 

Nick at IVR wrote a paper with Irene Hardill, from Northumbria University, for the annual conference of the Association of American Geographers that took place in New York in February.

The paper called ‘Creating space for voluntary action: understanding unpaid voluntary work in distressed communities in the UK’ is based on the Pathways findings and research carried out by Irene also using life story interviews. It looks at the Big Society agenda and government’s ambitions to increase volunteer involvement in public service delivery and explores the likely impact on gender roles within the home and informal care within communities.

For a copy of the paper, please contact Nick directly. 

In July, Ellie will be presenting the Pathways findings at the 10th international conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) in Siena. She will be presenting her paper ‘Narratives of active citizenship: how people become and stay involved in different types of participation over their lifetime’ as part of a panel session on the role of the third sector in building and facilitating active citizenship. The other presenters for the session are Marilyn Taylor (who chaired the Pathways advisory group), Sue Kenny and Jenny Onyx (both from Australia).

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What’s happened since the launch of the final report Wed, 18 Apr 2012 12:25:52 +0000 We thought it would be a good time to update you on what’s happened since the launch of our final report in September 2011.

Over the last few months we have received invitations to present the research at various external conferences and seminars including events organised by Community Matters, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, London Civic Forum, NIACE, NUS, UnLtd,Voluntary Action Leeds and the Home Office. We were also asked to present our findings at the BIG headquarters at an internal lunchtime seminar.

Our publications have informed a number of recently published reports, for instance:

We’ve also written a number of short articles to summarise the main findings of the project including one for the People United website and another for Engage, the NCVO magazine.

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Copies of the summary report and briefing papers Fri, 13 Apr 2012 14:01:55 +0000 We have spare copies of the project’s summary report and the following three briefing papers:

Informing and influencing policy

Local engagement in democracy

Volunteering as a participation pathways

If you would like to receive copies please email us your name and postal address.

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Pathways through Participation: evaluation report Thu, 12 Apr 2012 16:10:04 +0000 An independent evaluator – Sally Downs – was commissioned to carry out an evaluation of the Pathways through Participation project for the three partner organisations and the Big Lottery Fund, our funder.

Sally’s report looks specifically at key lessons from the research process, and the stakeholder engagement and communication strategy, and examines the project’s outcomes at the time of the evaluation.

Her findings, which we will use to inform our future research projects, reinforce to a large extent the key messages in the last briefing paper we produced on research, engagement and impact.

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Where next for localism and co-production? Tue, 03 Apr 2012 18:28:19 +0000 On 15 March 2012, Involve co-hosted with Consumer Focus a seminar exploring ‘where next for localism and co-production?’ The event brought together a group of 27 individuals from national government, local government, the voluntary and community sector, the social innovation field, academia and think tanks to explore some of the challenges and opportunities for localism and co-production in the coming years.

As well as some case studies of localism and co-production being put into action, the seminar drew upon two pieces of research:

  • Pathways through Participation, and
  • Hands Up and Hands On’ – a new research report, launched at the event, by Consumer Focus.

The ‘Hands Up and Hands On’ research explores citizens’ attitudes towards greater localism and their appetite for greater involvement. The findings provide some reasons to be optimistic, with a sizeable number of people (28%) saying they’d like to have more input into local services. But it also highlights the need to understand and acknowledge how this differs across communities and be realistic about what the level of involvement is that people want.

It’s findings on why people do and do not get involved are strikingly consistent in many respects with our Pathways through Participation findings. For example, it too found the importance of ‘personal connection to an issue’, ‘social connection to others who are involved’ and ‘circumstances’ to involvement being triggered.

In terms of why people are not contributing more, it picks out five reasons:

  • They don’t know about opportunities – at best only 1 in 6 people felt well-informed about existing opportunities, and in some instances that fell to 1 in 10.
  • They don’t have the time – this is compounded by the concern that they’ll be drawn into doing more than they want.
  • They don’t have faith in local authorities – they feel disempowered from engaging with local government structures and don’t feel they have a voice.
  • They don’t want to participate with the “usual suspects” – they are concerned about cliques who forward their own views rather than engaging in others.
  • They don’t believe that their involvement will make a difference – perhaps because of a previous unsuccessful experience.

The ‘Hands Up and Hands On’ report is well worth a read and can be found here:

A report of the ‘Where next for localism and co-production’ seminar can be found here:

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Research, engagement and impact Mon, 12 Dec 2011 15:27:25 +0000 The main purpose of the Pathways through Participation project was to improve understanding of the multiple dimensions of participation and to increase the evidence base on people’s experience of participation over time. The project also always intended to encourage the use of its research findings to influence practice and policy so that more appropriate opportunities for participation could be developed and made available to a greater range of people.

We have just released a short briefing paper – research, engagement and impact – that reviews the project’s approach to research and stakeholder engagement, highlights how the project set about linking research to policy and practice, and critically assesses some of the research methods and tools that were used. The paper also reflects on some of the challenges of conducting research and summarises the key practical learning from the project for future research.

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Informing and influencing policy Mon, 05 Dec 2011 12:39:31 +0000 The third learning event that we organised  following the launch of our final report looked at the implications of the research findings for national policy agendas, focusing particularly on the giving of time and money and the decentralisation of power. The write-up report of the event and the presentation slides are now available to download as is the associated briefing paper – Informing and influencing policy.

The two other briefing papers that have been produced – local engagement in democracy and volunteering as a participation pathway – can be found in our resources section.

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Local engagement in democracy Thu, 03 Nov 2011 11:38:22 +0000 On 18 October we launched our second of three briefing papers summarising the findings and implications of the research. This one focused on Local engagement in democracy, and specifically what the research tells us about the:

  • Language and image of local engagement in democracy
  • Practice of local engagement in democracy
  • Accessibility of local engagement in democracy

The briefing paper can be found, along with the briefing papers on volunteering and national policy implications, in the resources section of the website.

Launch event

The launch event was hosted by Stella Creasy MP in the Houses of Parliament and was attended by over 40 people from a range of public, and voluntary and community sector organisations. We have produced two reports of the event: one in PDF format that you can download and print, and one in blog format that you can read and listen to online. The e-report includes audio and slides from the presentation, audio and transcripts of the three speakers’ reflections, and audio and summaries of the group discussion. The last post in the e-report links to some excellent blog posts that were written after the event by Mark Parker, David Wilcox, Tessy Britton and my colleague Annie Quick. The blog format also allows you to leave comments – so please feel free to share any thoughts, we’d love to continue the conversation.

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Volunteering as a participation pathway Thu, 06 Oct 2011 14:11:57 +0000 We recently released a briefing paper focusing on the implications of  our research findings for volunteer management. The paper is aimed primarily at small, medium and large volunteer-involving organisations as well as volunteer centres and other volunteering infrastructure organisations at the local, regional and national level.

The paper was presented at a workshop on 26 September, led by the IVR (Institute for Volunteering Research). Notes from the small group discussions that took place at the workshop have now been written and are available to download here.

We are running two more  workshops in October. For more information and to register:

Local engagement and democracy
Tuesday 18 October 2011, 4.00 to 6.00
Houses of Parliament, London

National policy agendas
Friday 21 October 2011, 10.00 to 12.30 (followed by lunch)
NCVO, London

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